Understanding software-defined storage

Dell Technologies

By Michael Cole, Director, Storage Platform Solutions, Dell Technologies, Australia and New Zealand
Monday, 09 October, 2023

Understanding software-defined storage

The rise of artificial intelligence; big data; the inexorable growth in social, mobile and cloud computing; and the evolution in robotics, 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT) have transformed the way we live, work and play.

They’ve also changed business, giving rise to new companies, and seeing those that couldn’t keep up falling by the wayside. New technologies like machine learning, augmented reality and chatbots are all set to transform our society and our organisations. However, what they have in common is they all need storage which is fast, flexible and scalable, and has the capacity needed both for today — and for tomorrow.

This can feel easier said than done. In the current climate, IT teams are facing pressure to constrain costs and get more done with less, which means new storage media must be cost-efficient and easy to manage.

Especially when the volume of data we create isn’t going to slow down, with estimates of a compound annual growth rate of 23%. In practical terms, this means there will be approximately 175 zettabytes (ZB) of data globally created by 2025, according to IDC. If you were to store that much data on DVDs, the resulting pile would circle the earth 222 times.

The only way to address these challenges of cost and flexibility is to embrace a modern, future-facing digital infrastructure such as software-defined storage (SDS).

According to a report by ReportLinker.com, the global software-defined storage market was estimated at US$28.99 billion (AU$43.5 billion) in 2021 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.12% to reach US$96.18 billion (AU$144.3 billion) by 2027. This indicates a growing adoption of SDS solutions among organisations of all sizes.

Understanding SDS and its need

An SDS storage architecture uses a layer of software to provision, orchestrate and manage physical data storage capacity on industry-standard servers. By decoupling software from hardware, software-defined solutions enable hardware and software to be acquired independently rather than locking organisations into proprietary platforms.

This approach allows for greater flexibility and scalability for your organisation, as well as the ability to integrate with other technologies such as cloud computing and big data analytics. Additionally, by separating the underlying hardware from the software, SDS solutions make it easier to implement data management and protection strategies, like data replication and backup. The upshot is organisations can protect their data more effectively against data loss.

Benefits of software-defined storage

The two biggest benefits of software-defined storage are cost and efficiency. Storage-defined solutions optimise all existing hardware before there’s a need to purchase new media. New storage arrays can be added quickly and simply, and users can access storage more easily with self-service tools. Ultimately, software-defined storage lets IT administrators spend more time managing the data itself, rather than the hardware it resides on.

Each software-defined storage option has its own strengths and benefits but, taken together, they let your organisation do the following:

  • Manage storage more effectively. Software-defined storage allows smarter interactions between workloads and storage, as well as providing dynamic storage provision and helps storage better adapt to the needs of your organisation.
  • Improve control and efficiency. With SDS, your organisation can optimise infrastructure to meet rapidly changing business requirements.
  • Enable agile consumption. Software-defined storage supports both traditional and emerging models of IT consumption, letting your IT team increase agility across infrastructure for cloud, mobile, social and analytics platforms.
  • Scale in real time. Software-defined storage provides optimal capacity based on current business requirements and enable your IT team to provision tiered storage on demand.

Another significant trend in enterprise data storage is the move towards cloud-based solutions, which offer increased scalability, reduced costs and improved disaster recovery capabilities. With SDS, your organisation can take advantage of the flexibility and scalability of the cloud while still maintaining control over your data.

Then there is the increasing amount of big data — both structured and unstructured — being generated by organisations. As you collect and analyse large amounts of data, traditional storage solutions are becoming inadequate. SDS, however, allows companies to store and manage this unstructured data in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Futureproof your business with software-defined storage

As your enterprise continues its digital transformation journey, you need to improve storage performance, scalability, manageability and agility along with IT infrastructure efficiency. This has implications for how IT requirements are met in core, edge and cloud-based environments and is ushering in new system architectures such as software-defined storage.

The key to making software-defined storage work for you is choosing solutions which are fast to deploy and simple to manage, support multiple workloads and a variety of use cases, and relieve your IT team of the complexity of managing a vast collection of storage assets. With the ability to manage and protect data, as well as scale storage infrastructure as needed, SDS solutions are enabling organisations to support their operations and drive business growth.

Image credit: iStock.com/piranka

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